Photo: Zoo Wuppertal/Barbarar Scheer
A new study indicates that global warming may actually benefit Arctic animals and ecosystem, by expanding their ranges and increasing biodiversity in the area as warmer-climate species move north.The research was published yesterday, Dec. 20, in the Journal PLoS ONE.
Scientists found that, in most cases, global warming will actually give a boost to Arctic and subarctic life. Looking at 61 mammal species that currently inhabit high-latitude Europe the scientists found that, under climate conditions forecast for the year 2080, the majority of the species will see their ranges expand. They found that warming will actually bring in more species from further south, increasing biodiversity in the region. And, even in their worst-case scenario, they expect at most one species to go extinct: the Arctic fox. But, they suspect that this worst-case scenario is just that, a nightmare scenario unlikely to unfold.
The researchers, from Umea University in Sweden, note that these cold-weather loving species that live in the Arctic are used to having to cope with a wide range of climactic conditions — they are relatively hearty creatures. One important conservation measure we need to make, though, is to ensure they have the habitat they need, and the ability to move around so they can adjust to changing conditions.
There’s already evidence that the iconic white bear has been moving onto land more and more. They do use the sea ice while hunting seals (their main food source) and as it’s disappearing they will need to adapt their hunting styles to survive.
Sadly, there will be serious effects of climate change in other areas of the globe, including droughts and extreme weather events.
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